Why Do Users Trust Mozilla More Than Google On Privacy?

The privacy-obsessed don’t seem to think much of Google.

A survey of consumer confidence found Mozilla to be the most trustworthy pure Internet company when it comes to user privacy, the organization eagerly announced. Out of companies generally, Mozilla broke into the top 20 in the study, which was conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

The top 20 includes plenty of other tech firms, including Amazon, eBay, Intuit, IBM, Microsoft, HP and even oft-loathed telecom carriers Verizon and AT&T.

Notably absent? Google.

It’s worth noting that this survey is a measure of consumer sentiment, not actual privacy features. Google gets very high ranks from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in its annual Privacy Scorecard, which tracks how major tech companies score on major issues of privacy. Twitter and the ISP Sonic.net topped the EFF’s list last year, but Google ranked third thanks to its privacy policies, transparency about user data requests from governments and legal and legislative advocacy on behalf of protecting user privacy.

The EFF doesn’t include Mozilla in its Privacy Scorecard and declined to offer an off-the-cuff score for the nonprofit. 

Mozilla vs. Google – Who Can You Really Trust More? 

Mozilla is making a big deal of its ranking, and has been making user privacy a very public priority for some time. Despite questions about its effectiveness, the organization has been proactive in incorporating Do Not Track technology in its browsers. Mozilla espouses a six-point philosophy when it comes to user privacy and generally tends to be transparent about its intentions and activities related to how it shares and protects user data. 

At the same time, Google – which has more complex privacy issues to contend with as a search engine, email provider and major player in mobile computing – has itself been pretty transparent on privacy, doing things like publishing regular transparency reports outlining the growing number of government requests it receives. Google tends to comply with those inquiries, but does so judiciously and has decried the ease with which governments are legally able to snoop on users’ electronic communications. 

At the end of the day, both Chrome and Firefox are secure, privacy-friendly browsers – as are their other competitors. But defending privacy for Google is inherently more challenging given the company’s enormous size and broad product line. And it appears that Google is not doing a great job of portraying itself as a privacy-friendly organization.

That could be a big problem. Moving forward, such perceptions – even more than objective actions and policies – could be crucial competitive differentiators.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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